Kelli Gilliam
Apprentice Craft Instructor/Welding Foreman 
Huntington Ingalls Industries

“Manufacturing is an overlooked intricate skill and lifelong stimulating experience. While others had dreams of what I would be, I vowed to never do something I would hate doing. Welding has allowed me opportunity to prosper in all my talents. Now the adventure is leadership in manufacturing!”

Since beginning her career with Huntington Ingalls Industries as a welder trainee at Newport News Shipbuilding, Kelli has carved a successful career path while leading and motivating countless others along the way. Graduating from The Apprenticeship School in 2014 as a pipe welder, Kelli received two merit awards and was featured in an article published by the U.S. Department of Labor titled, “A Mom’s Path to the Middle Class,” which highlighted her journey to success in the shipbuilding industry. Following her role as Production Foreman, Kelli transitioned to Apprentice Craft Instructor where she leads a team of 12 to 14 welders to work towards safety, quality, cost and schedule goals.

Taking a "hands on approach” to training new employees, Kelli’s ability to lead and inspire others has impacted multiple work teams. Kelli is often looked to by her peers and team members for guidance and advice, acting as a mentor both on and off the job. In her specific work area, Kelli is committed to developing new pipe welders on technical and personal levels, and works diligently to instill the importance of working safely. Kelli encourages her team to believe in the company’s vision and values, while emphasizing that what they do matters. 

As a mother of five, Kelli has helped mentor women who face challenging times during pregnancy crises and believes deeply in being a positive mentor to children. Her “lead by example” approach demonstrates that through hard work and dedication, all things are possible. Kelli served the United States Navy as a reservist for 8 years where she received multiple awards for work accomplished during active duty that supported the community and military bases. As an active member of her church, she serves as Secretary for the Board of Directors and has facilitated several community initiatives. In addition, Kelli’s passion for custom cake making has added a personal touch to numerous community and work celebrations.

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